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The Way It Is: Backwards, Sideways, Opposites - 1 Corinthians 1. 24-31

God is a surprising God! Although we are graciously and marvelously created in His image and likeness, there is still so much to learn about Him. Although the self-disclosure of Himself takes up sixty-six books of the Older and Newer Testaments, there is still so much to learn about Him. Although the heavens declare His glory and the earth shows His fingerprints (Psalm 19.1-2), there is still so much to learn about Him!

For instance, just about everything the Lord does is quite the opposite of the way any of us created beings would do it. What we think is great, He declares is of small matter. What we surmise as leading, he illustrates as lording. What we say is wise, he posits as foolish. Can we ever get it right as far as the thinking of God is concerned? Or anything else revolving around Him who fills all things and in whom we live and move and have our being?

We in our thinking, suppose that Jesus should come to the earth as the Mighty Warrior-Prince to conquer and to reign. Instead, we misread the Lord as He comes to serve and to suffer. And then God uses that serving and suffering to save those who are His committed enemies!

In our world, we conquer and kill our enemies. But God saves His enemies and loves them to the death...His own death. The paradox is sometimes overwhelming to meditate upon or even to consider.

In the first chapter of First Corinthians, Paul reveals to us in wondrous sketches the God who not only is the opposite of us but Who does the opposite of what we do. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, even goes so far as to inform us that the Lord’s ways appear quite foolish to us. Yet, “the foolish” plan of God is “far wiser than the wisest of human plans” and that, “God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength” (v. 25).

In order to visually demonstrate how far out all of this really is, the Apostle reminds us, who are the chosen of God, that “few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you”(v.26). Could this have been a mistake on the Lord’s part? We should NEVER even consider that kind of thinking, for “God deliberately chose the things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise” (v.27). Not only that, but also, “...He chose what is powerless to shame those who are powerful” (v.27b). Hmmm...the very Kingdom of the Creator, populated by fools and weaklings? That is exactly what God says that He does. How many of us would have chosen fools and weaklings for our inner city stick ball choose-up games? Or any other game for that matter?

But He does not stop with merely fools and weaklings. Verse 28 intones, “God chose things despised by the world,”...let’s go even lower, “things counted as nothing at all.” And at the end of the age what is the Lord’s grand purpose in doing this? “He used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in God’s presence.” And that is that!

So not only does the Lord think and do opposite of His fallen humans, He does so to magnify the exotic richness of His all-consuming grace. And to bring the praise of men to Himself. And because we in our falleness have such a tendency to pride of self and pride of accomplishment, there is no way, no how, we would ever credit the Lord with anything, even our salvation, of which He has done all, according to verse 30: “God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus.” And (Christ) is the one who made us acceptable to God.”

So He does it His way. The extreme opposite of our way. And we are deliciously ensnared. Delightfully trapped. So that as we begin to boast we are reminded, gently: “The person who wishes to boast should boast only of what the Lord has done” (v.31). Praise God! How could it be any other way?!!?

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